I recently presented a program on “Employment Issues Related to Teleworking” as part of the free Coronavirus Special Topic Conference Call Series hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce in partnership with the Connecticut District Export Council. Below are some key takeaways from the program that affect many manufacturers. .

  • While not normal, the social and economic disruption is not “unprecedented.” The employment decisions made by business executives will be judged by the perfect 20/20 vision of hindsight months in the future. For that reason, do not assume that you can use COVID-19 as a rationale for making employment decisions that you normally would not make in tranquil settings.
  • Be mindful of which groups are allowed to telework versus which groups required to work on site.  Perceptions of fairness, unfavorable or risky exposure can create human resources and litigation issues later.
  • It is important to have written policies during times of disruption, including but not limited to, on the following topics:
    • Temporary nature of work from home assignments; importance of protecting business secrets (data security, co-mingling of personal data; shredding of printed copies when crisis over); preservation of work product; responsibility for payment of costs associated with telework.
  • Wage and hour requirements still apply to telework. Exempt employees paid on a “salary basis,” performing exempt duties. Non-exempt employees recording of hours worked, pay for all hours worked, payment of minimum wage and overtime.
  • OSHA and workers compensation apply to home work. OSHA distinguishes between “home office” and “home manufacturing.”  Workers compensation will cover workplace accidents (even if in home).
  • New federal and state leave laws complicate telework arrangements. Track leave even for employees teleworking.

For the full audio of the program, visit the Connecticut District Export Council’s website.